Book Review: Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Rating: 3.5/5

I really really wanted to like this book.

Book CWs

  • Character Death/Murder
  • Child Death/Murder (Teens)
  • Drugs
  • Alcohol
  • Anxiety (MC has anxiety)
  • Cliff hanger ending


A long time ago, Albert Ellingham founded a Elingham Academy in Vermont as a school for the best and brightest teen prodigies. After the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped by an unknown assailant known only as “Truly Devious”. The case was never solved.

Many many years later, Stevie Bell, a young teen obsessed with solving mysteries, begins her first semester at Ellingham Academy with the goal of solving the famous cold case. Almost as soon as Stevie begins getting used to her new classmates and pursuing leads, Truly Devious resurfaces and a student is, once again, mysteriously murdered.

Review (Kind of Spoilery)

(I don’t think there’s a way of reviewing this book without having some vague spoilers since the biggest issue is the ending so you can stop reading here if you want.)

Okay, I really really thought I was going to be head over heals for this book. I loved Maureen’s The Name of the Star (you’ve probably heard me say this like 500 times in other reviews) and I have always loved crime mysteries. Putting those two things together, I thought this was going to be my best read of the year.

Sadly, I was so very mistaken.

The first two pages of this book got me so absolutely hooked before the first chapter even began. This feeling continued throughout pretty much all of the book…that is, until I got to the ending.

The ending is the worst thing I could have ever imagined. In that it’s not an ending at all! I’m pretty okay with cliffhanger endings but absolutely nothing was resolved in the end. Nothing was even solved at the end. I read an entire crime mystery where no questions were answered. I was so upset! What kind of book does that??

The reason I gave this book 3.5 stars despite the ending was because it was pretty darn good in creating the right atmosphere for a mystery book. Like I said, I was enjoying it a lot until I got to the end. It had good details, amazing flashbacks, and great suspense. It just didn’t amount to anything.

I was also really annoyed with the main character. Stevie is supposed to be a kind of teenage Sherlock Holmes and she pretty much sucked the entire book. She was so amazingly bad at putting things together. Rory (the MC in The Name of the Star) was better at solving things than Stevie was and Rory’s just some random American girl!

I do still think that I’ll continue the series regardless of how angry this book made me. I’m hoping the next book is better than the first and can provide me with some sort of conclusion at the end.

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